Entitlement reform is necessary for the fiscal health of this country, but it is something that no one wants to talk about, much less tackle. How can we begin? How can we open up the conversation and the possibility to reform and improve our social security system?
One step in the right direction would be to treat Social Security as a true retirement plan, and not as a wealth transfer system that it currently is. This could begin with reclassifying the payroll tax. The majority (6.2% out of 7.65%) of the payroll tax covers Social Security retirement benefits. If we actually used it (or at least most of it) for that individual’s social security retirement, everyone’s perception would change. Instead of being viewed as a hated tax (just ask any young person who has received their first paycheck), it would be viewed as a desirable saving for their future!
Let’s make another incremental change. The employer and employee contribute equally to the Social Security Tax. If the individual’s part went towards his personal retirement, the other part could go towards defraying the past obligations that are coming due. If we had done such a thing 20 years ago, the entire system would have been fixed. Unfortunately, the present situation would probably require some portion of the individual’s portion to also go towards paying the ever growing obligation for past unfunded promises. It’s that dire! And every year that we do not fix it, it gets worse.
We must stop treating Social Security like welfare or wealth transfers and start treating it like a retirement system. It’s our money anyway, even though the government wants to act like it is being generous when it gives us back our money. This would lessen the loose-and-fast accounting gimmicks that contribute to the fiscal mismanagement of Social Security anyway — and may move it away from its impending insolvency.